Chemokine 12 (CXCL12), also known as stromal cell derived factor-1 (SDF-1) and a member of the CXC chemokine subfamily, is ubiquitously expressed in many tissues and cell types. It interacts specifically with the ligand for the transmembrane G protein-coupled receptors CXCR4 and CXCR7. The CXCL12/CXCR4 axis takes part in a series of physiological, biochemical, and pathological process, such as inflammation and leukocyte trafficking, cancer-induced bone pain, and postsurgical pain, and also is a key factor in the cross-talking between tumor cells and their microenvironment. Aberrant overexpression of CXCR4 is critical for tumor survival, proliferation, angiogenesis, homing and metastasis. In this review, we summarized the role of CXCL12/CXCR4 in cancer, CXCR4 inhibitors under clinical study, and natural product CXCR4 antagonists. In conclusion, the CXCL12/CXCR4 signaling is important for tumor development and targeting the pathway might represent an effective approach to developing novel therapy in cancer treatment.